Whilst Hounds of Love was the first album from this 250 that touched upon being a concept album (The Nineth Wave truly is a work of genius) this is the first proper full concept album to be done for this bucket list. Another one of these (Illinois) is set to come up soon, since it is my favourite album of all time, but for now Tommy will be the album for this week.
I went into this album completely cold. I have never seen the film musical of Tommy nor have I ever heard any of the songs (even ‘Pinball Wizard’ if you are asking). I am not even sure I have heard much music by The Who outside of their guest appearance in The Simpsons. It is for reasons such as this that I am trying to listen to these albums and why I tend to not talk music in public (it’s hard to explain the abundance of JPop on my iPod).
Unlike most concept albums I have listened to (such as the Metropolis albums by Janelle Monáe) the story in Tommy is very obvious. In fact, it was one I found really compelling… maybe in part due to the rather dark songs ‘Fiddle About’ and ‘Cousin Kevin’ which deal in the sexual abuse and bullying of a disabled boy.
Okay, backtrack time, if you do not know what Tommy it is, in a nutshell, the story of a blind deaf-mute man’s abusive childhood, love of pinball, treatment, development into a cult leader and then his eventual downfall. This is meant to be ‘hard rock’ or a ‘rock opera’ but really this is just a concept album. A good concept album don’t get me wrong but enough of the airs and graces.
It has its flaws, however, as interesting as the album feels a little bit padded in places. This is, however, the problem with creating a concept album; sometimes in order to advance the plot you end up having a number of slightly weaker songs. Maybe if this was made nowadays they would include spoken word elements/skits instead of trying to make the storyline go along in rhyme but Tommy still works on most levels. I may go through it again and un-tick a few of the songs that feel superfluous before going in again for another listen.